October 2011

Halloween in the new house!!

by J.S. on October 2, 2011

in Handmade,Parties

Halloween!!! I’m super excited. It’s my first Halloween in our new house (rental…cause you know, the whole poor thing). We started decorating this weekend and I’ll began stock piling the candy soon. I found these cool light up branches at Home Goods. They’re battery operated and were $13 for a set. I bought foam pumpkins for $10 each and drilled holes into them using a 5/8 drill bit. I weighted the pumpkins with some stones and then inserted the branches, added a couple of crows and voila cute door decor for under $50.

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Pasta Two Ways: Marinara Sauce

by J.S. on October 2, 2011

in Recipes

Here’s my no fail Marinara. It’s so good I  could eat it with a spoon. Best part, you can put it on pizza, on eggplant, lasagna, whatever. This isn’t the type of sauce that I would make for spaghetti and meatballs or a meat sauce. It’s light and sweet and really holds up on its own. It’s one of the main sauces to master.

A few notes about what makes a good sauce:

1. the tomatoes. ALWAYS opt for the more expensive canned tomatoes. They really make difference. This is one place where I would urge you to spend. Go for the San Marzano crushed and diced tomatoes. They’ll run you about $3.50 a can but in a dish with so few ingredients you have to go for the best. I promise you it will make a huge difference and the dish will still run you under $15 for a family of 4.

2. the wine. If you’re cooking for children and concerned about the wine cooking out you can omit it. The majority of the alcohol content will cook out.So if you’re going all the way, use white wine. My rules for wine in sauces are simple; anything with a “meaty” component gets red. This includes sauces like a Puttanesca because the olives offer a “meaty” addition. In marinara with no “meaty” component you would add white for the sweeter lighter notes. Always use wine you would drink but it doesn’t need to pricey. I almost always cook with Trader Joe’s  Charles Shaw for $2 it’s really hard to beat.


1 tbs olive oil

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1/2 an onion finely chopped

red pepper flakes

salt & pepper to taste

2 tsp sun dried tomato paste

1/2 jar of sun dried tomato and half the oil in the jar

1 can of crushed tomatoes

1 can of dices tomatoes

1/2 cup white wine

fresh basil leaves


In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil and cook until warm. Next add the onion,  garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the sun dried tomato paste, the sun dried tomatoes and the oil and cook until the tomatoes began to plump and soften. Finally, add the tomatoes and the wine and cook from 10 minutes. Pour sauce into a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pan and keep warm. Tear fresh basil and add to sauce. Serve over anything. Garnish with parmesan cheese.


Pasta Sauce Two Ways…

by J.S. on October 2, 2011

in Recipes

It’s Sunday Supper night and we’re doing pasta two ways; Puttanesca and sun dried tomato marinara. Master these two sauce and you can really do a variety of things. Plus, you’ll impress the hell out of your friends and family who are use to eating sauce out of a jar (oh! the horror!!). There really is NO excuse to ever open a jar again. Need more convincing? OK, well jar sauces are chalk full of sugars and preservatives. They have more calories and you’re missing out on a lot of the vitamin benefits of fresh sauces, what you make is barely processed and you can control what goes in. All in all, trust me, you’re better off making it. And if that’s not enough it’s like a billion times better tasting.

So here we go…Pasta Marinara and Puttanesca

Puttanesca loosely translate to “the Whore’s Spaghetti” because the story goes ladies of the night would serve a version of this to their johns after work. Distinctive for the smell and the addition on anchovies and olives it’s a great addition to your pasta repertoire.


2 TBS olive Oil

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

half an onion finely chopped

3 anchovy filets

1 tsp red pepper flakes (more to taste)

Sea salt (go easy, everything is salty)

Pepper (to taste)

2 tsp Oregano

1 16oz can of diced tomatoes

1 16 oz can of crushed tomato

3/4 Cup red wine

3 TBS capers

2 cups of olives (kalamata and green pitted olives)



In a sauce pan over medium high heat coat pan with olive oil. Add the anchovies and stir to break up.

After about a minute add the onion, garlic, red pepper, salt (go very easy) and pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Next, add the oregano, wine and the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the olives and capers and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with pasta or refrigerate and serve the next day.